Food for thought

Spotting interesting trends and finding noteworthy food facts and figures is a big part of what we do at Ceres. Here are 10 recent articles, reports and long reads that made us stop and think.

Sober-curious Brits: Low & no-alcohol products are the fastest-growing part of the UK adult soft drinks market. Sales of ‘low & no’ beer, spirits, cider and wine have soared by 31.2% over the past 12 months, adding £44.1m, according to Kantar data. Nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the UK population now buy into the category. [Source: The Grocer]

Lockdown fuels demand for sweet deliveries: Brits are increasingly ordering dessert for home delivery. Just Eat says the number of dessert brands on its platform is up by more than 70% and sales are rising as consumers “seek out small comforts during what has been a challenging year”. [Source: FT]

Salad with a fast food twist: US vertical farming company Plenty has unveiled new branding and packaging for its bagged salad leaves, taking design cues from fast food brands such as KFC and Burger King. It’s all about making salad seem delicious and “craveable” instead of worthy-but-boring. [Source: Fast Company]

The value of food: The Waitrose Food and Drink Report is always full of interesting stats. This year, the following caught our eye: one in four people in the UK bought food online for the first time in 2020, and 57% of Brits say they value food more as a result of the pandemic. On Waitrose.com specifically, searches for high protein recipes are up 330% and high fibre recipes are up 230%. [Source: Waitrose Food and Drink Report]

Tech help for chubby pets: More than 50% of dogs and 40% of cats in the UK are overweight or obese. A new generation of tech entrepreneurs is trying to help with gadgets including PitPat, an activity tracker that fits onto collars. [Source: Sifted]

Sous vide trial for Pret: The food-to-go chain has partnered with Cuisine Solutions to open a ‘dark assembly kitchen’ in New York City. The idea is that Pret a Manger staff receive fully cooked, sous vide products that only need to be assembled, allowing Pret to offer high-quality dinner menus for delivery without the need for scratch-cooking. [Source: The Spoon]

Live-stream shopping: Chinese live-streaming platform Taobao Live, owned by Alibaba, generated $7.5bn worth of sales in just 30 minutes during a presales push for ‘Singles Day’ in 2020. That’s roughly the same as Amazon is thought to have generated over 48 hours during ‘Prime Day’. [Source: The Economist]

Unilever trials ‘nano factory’: The FMCG company is testing a digital food factory that fits inside a 40ft shipping container. [Source: New Food Magazine]

The original ‘Meatless Monday’: During World War I, the US government promoted meatless days as part of food rationing efforts. (It also pushed the idea of ‘Wheatless Wednesdays’.) Peanuts became a popular meat substitute, possibly fuelled by advertising claims that just 10 cents’ worth of peanuts contained six times the energy of a porterhouse steak. [Source: Smithsonian Magazine]

AI creates hybrid cakes: As part of an experiment on machine learning, an AI tool developed by Google has come up with two new hybrid baked goods: ‘cakie’ (half cake, half cookie) and ‘breakies’ (half bread, have cookies). [Source: TechCrunch]

Get the next edition of our Ceres Newsletter

FRESH